British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

King Lear

Synopsis
Feature film version of the play. Widely criticised and a commercial failure, the film was received as an interesting deconstruction or completely unintelligible according to taste. The film makes the premise that the Chernobyl nuclear disaster has wiped out all works of culture including Shakespeare’s plays. William Shakespeare Junior the Fifth sets out on a mission to reconstruct his ancestor’s work.
Language
English
Country
Switzerland; United States
Medium
Film
Technical information
Colour / Sound
Year of release
1987
Duration
90 mins; 8,132 feet

Credits

Director
Jean-Luc Godard
Producer
Menahem Golan; Yoram Globus
Cinematographer
Sophie Maintigneux
Cast
Burgess MeredithDon Learo (Lear)
Molly RingwaldCordelia (Cordelia)
Woody AllenMr Alien (Fool)
Norman MailerThe Great Writer
Peter SellarsWilliam Shakespeare Junior the Fifth

Additional Details

Production type
Fiction Films
Historical period
Future
Plays
King Lear
Subjects
Drama
Keywords
Shakespeare, William (1564-1616)

Notes

Notes
Budget $1.4m
Reviews
Durgnat, Raymond. Monthly Film Bulletin 649 (1988), pp 38-39.
Lanier, Douglas ‘Film Spin-Offs and Citations’ in Burt, Richard (ed). Shakespeares After Shakespeares: an Encyclopedia of the Bard in Mass Media and Popular Culture. 2 vols. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2006. (pp. 193-4, entry 805).
Maerz, Jessica M. ‘Godard’s KING LEAR: Referents Provided upon Request’ in Literature/Film Quarterly v. 32, n.2 (! July 2004), pp. 108-114.
Jonathan Rosenbaum, ‘The Importance of Being Perverse’, Chicago Reader, 8 April 1988: "Whatever might turn the film into ‘a Shakespeare play,' ‘a Mailer script,' ‘a story,' or even ‘a Godard film’ in the usual sense is purposefully subverted. The film aspires, like Cordelia, to be (and to say) "no thing," to exist and to function as a nonobject: ungraspable, intractable, unconsumable. For a movie that is concerned, like Shakespeare’s play, with ultimate essences rather than fleeting satisfactions, it is an aspiration that has an unimpeachable logic." Avaiiable at http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.com/?p=7695 (accessed 7/2010).

Production Company

Name

Cannon

Archive

Name

Folger Shakespeare Library

Email
reference@folger.edu
Web
http://www.folger.edu External site opens in new window
Phone
(202) 544 4600
Fax
(202) 544 4623
Address
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington
DC 20003
USA
Name

Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting & Recorded Sound Division

Web
http://catalog.loc.gov/ External site opens in new window
Phone
(20) 707-8572
Fax
(20) 707-237’1
Address
Motion Picture & Television Reading Room
James Madison Building, LM 336
101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, D.C.
20540-4690
United States

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